Here and Now

Weekdays 1-3PM

For Serena Williams’ first 26 matches at major tournaments in 2015, no deficit was too daunting, no opponent too troublesome, no victory too far from reach.

She was unbeaten and, seemingly, unbeatable, nearing the first Grand Slam in more than a quarter-century. All Williams needed was two more wins to pull off that rare feat. And yet, against an unseeded and unheralded opponent in the U.S. Open semifinals, she faltered. Her pursuit of history ended, oh so close.

Nespresso, Europe’s largest single-serve coffee brand, is adding a new factory in Switzerland. That factory will make capsules specifically designed for consumers in the United States, where sales are higher than in Europe.

Americans are spending more money on coffee than ever before, and increasingly brewing single-cup coffee. Michael Regan of Bloomberg News joins Here & Now‘s Meghna Chakrabarti to discuss the new factory and what it means for American consumers.


SodaStream Leaves The West Bank

Sep 11, 2015

SodaStream, maker of the carbonated drink device, is slated to pull out of the West Bank next week, and move operations to Southern Israel.

The company, which is Israeli-owned but employs hundreds of Palestinians, has been the target of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanction (BDS) movement, which opposes Israelis doing business in the occupied territories.

SodaStream’s CEO has condemned the movement but says that is not the reason for the company’s move from the West Bank, nor for its drop in stock prices and revenue.

How much financial help does an impoverished child with autism need? What about a child who has bipolar disorder?

In the U.S., the answer depends on what state the family lives in. If they are in Pennsylvania, they are almost six times more likely to receive financial help from the federal government than if they live in Nevada.

The Surgeon General of the United States is asking for 22 minutes of your time every day.

Vivek Murthy’s national “Call to Action” is a nationwide initiative urging people of all ages to walk for a minimum of 150 minutes a week – the amount of physical activity shown to reduce the effects of chronic disease, support mental health and reduce the risk of premature death.

McDonald’s has announced it will switch to cage-free eggs over the next decade, joining Subway and Starbucks, although those two companies haven’t laid out timelines for their changeover. How much is ethical food driving customers and food industry leaders?

The Washington, D.C.-based restaurant chain Sweetgreen is a telling example. Its goal is to deliver its fresh assembly-line salads with a hip sustainable-food attitude.

The Justice Department issued new guidelines Wednesday aimed at prioritizing the prosecution of individual employees, not just the companies, involved in white collar crime.

The new rules were issued in a memo to federal prosecutors, and come after years of criticism that the Department of Justice has not held Wall Street executives accountable for criminal activities.

NPR senior business editor Marilyn Geewax joins Here & Now‘s Megna Chakrabarti to discuss the new guidelines.


Two of Boston’s longest-running stories and scandals have hit the Venice Film Festival as Hollywood movies. One of them, “Black Mass,” comes with a big star, big buzz and the name James “Whitey” Bulger. David Boeri of Here & Now contributor station WBUR in Boston brought us this report from Venice.

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s four-game suspension over under-inflated footballs in last season’s AFC title game was overturned by a federal judge last week, letting him start the season with his team tomorrow.

The chief executive and two senior officials resigned yesterday from United Airlines, amid a federal investigation into whether the airline gave favors to the chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

United began a direct flight between Newark, New Jersey, and Columbia, South Carolina, where the former head of the Port Authority, David Samson, has a vacation home. The route began while he was chairman and ended after he resigned last year. At the same time, United was in negotiations with the Port Authority over airport projects.

The head of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Jens Stoltenberg, will make his first visit to Ukraine later this month. The planned visit comes as Ukraine and Russia face a December deadline to fully implement a ceasefire agreement signed in Minsk in February.

The fighting with separatists and their Russian allies, however, has not halted, though Ukrainian officials claim some slowing since another ceasefire agreement meant to bolster the Minsk agreement went into effect at the start of September.

In 1969, a young woman was found stabbed to death in Harlan, Kentucky, and buried without a name. To many locals, she’s known as “Mountain Jane Doe.” To Darla Jackson and Todd Matthews, her case deserved extra digging.

Michael Schiller of the public radio show “Reveal” followed Darla and Todd into the wooded hills of Harlan to exhume the body of Mountain Jane Doe. What they end up finding is unexpected.

If you live in a city, there’s a good chance you’ve seen a high-rise going up this summer. U.S. construction spending is at its highest level in more than seven years. The New York Building Congress trade organization found that in New York City, for example, construction of new office space is at a 25-year high.

What's Wrong With Unpaid Internships?

Sep 7, 2015

In August, a group of about 40 current and former unpaid interns made headlines when they brought a class action lawsuit against Dualstar Entertainment Group, the company owned by celebrities Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen.

At the United Nations, the debate over paying interns flared up when it came to light that one unpaid intern at the U.N. was living in a tent in Geneva to save money.

The issue is no less argued among non-profit organizations. NPR pays its interns, while Here & Now and WBUR do not. Here & Now is a co-production of NPR and WBUR.

Meet The Robot That Builds Robots

Sep 7, 2015

Researchers at the University of Cambridge have created a robot that is able to design and build new robots. Using the process of natural selection, this “mother robot” will test its “children,” and from those tests, design even better ones.

The research is part of a growing field called evolutionary robotics, and while it is testing the boundaries of artificial intelligence, it is also revealing new ways of thinking about biological processes.

With the Iran nuclear deal all but locked up for President Obama, Congress still faces an uncommonly busy month. Lawmakers return from recess on Tuesday with a government shutdown looming, as well as questions about the United States’ debt limit and the Highway Trust Fund.  NPR’s Domenico Montanaro talks with Here & Now’s Peter O’Dowd about where lawmakers’ priorities lie.

Hampton Creek CEO Josh Tetrick recently put a full-page ad in The New York Times urging President Obama to “reimagine” the country’s “outdated” food system, in order to put an end to inner city food deserts and dying family farms.

His company’s signature product, the eggless mayonnaise substitute Just Mayo, has put him in conflict with the egg industry and the Food and Drug Administration, and has placed him under greater media scrutiny.

The August jobs report is out and the numbers are murky. The Labor Department says the U.S. unemployment rate is down to its lowest level since 2008, but only 173,000 jobs were created last month – that is lower than economists were expecting.

This was the last report before the Federal Reserve meets later this month to make a decision on whether to raise interest rates. Mike Regan of Bloomberg News talks with Here & Now host Lisa Mullins about the report.

26 Years Old, And 7 Years Sober

Sep 4, 2015

How do you know that you are drinking too much? That you might be an alcoholic? If you are in high school or college, where alcohol can flow like water, it can be hard to tell.

Four in five college students drink alcohol, and about half of those drinkers consume by binge drinking. For most, the drinking curbs with age, which is why it may seem so easy to claim heavy drinking is just a phase for the young.

A new program that allows allows real estate companies to buy a share of public housing buildings is causing controversy in Baltimore.

Some say the Rental Assistance Demonstration program frees up needed funding for affordable housing programs, but others worry that the program shows a cutback on government commitment to public housing and leans too heavily on the private sector.

From the Here & Now Contributors Network, Jonna McKone of WYPR in Baltimore explains the story of public housing’s future and past.

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady can suit up for his team’s season opener after a judge erased his four-game suspension for “Deflategate.”

The surprise ruling by U.S. District Judge Richard Berman came Thursday after more than one month of failed settlement talks between the NFL and its players’ union. Many legal experts believed the judge was merely pressuring the sides to settle when he criticized the NFL’s handling of the case at two hearings in August.

But the judge wasn’t posturing.

Here & Now resident chef Kathy Gunst enjoys yogurt as a breakfast dish with granola and fruit. She also likes it as a dessert, perhaps drizzled with maple syrup, coconut and more fruit. But as she tells host Robin Young, yogurt also has endless savory possibilities.

President Barack Obama made history this week by becoming the first U.S. president to cross the invisible line into the Arctic Circle while in office. He used the trip to draw attention to global warming trends that are melting ice in the Arctic Ocean.

Scientists predict the body of water will be ice-free for much of the summer, as early as 2030. That calls into question who has access to what in an increasingly accessible part of the world.

How much are you working when you’re at work? That’s the question increasingly on the minds of employers, especially ones in Silicon Valley.

The New York Times exposé on Amazon painted a portrait – one that Amazon refutes – of a harsh workplace where employees are measured by algorithms and anonymous peer reviews.

New Zealand is holding a public competition to possibly replace the country’s current flag. Over 10,000 designs were submitted and yesterday, four designs were revealed as finalists.

New Zealand residents will vote on a winner later this year and then in March 2016, they will vote on whether that winner will replace the current New Zealand flag.

Lawyers representing thousands of inmates who have been held in small, windowless rooms say they’ve reached a settlement with the state of California to end the practice of extreme long-term isolation. Michael Montgomery talks with Here & Now’s Lisa Mullins about the history of solitary confinement in California and what is going to change.

Flying presents a particular set of challenges for people with allergies to peanuts and tree nuts. Even touching an armrest with residue on it can cause someone with an allergy to go into anaphylactic shock, where the airway closes and the person is unable to breathe.

People who use Google’s internet browser Chrome could soon see fewer of those ads that pop up or start playing automatically. Starting today, Chrome will block online ads that use Adobe Flash. Flash is the technology behind many of the online video and banner ads that pop up or start playing on their own.

Now the ads will be defaulted to pause on Chrone, so users will have to elect to watch them. Jason Bellini of The Wall Street Journal joins Here & Now’s Lisa Mullins to take a look at what this means for Adobe Flash and for online advertising.

As part of a series of listening sessions across the country, representatives from the Bureau of Land Management recently came to Gillette, Wyoming, to meet with residents about the agency’s federal coal program.

The BLM says it wants to modernize the program to ensure American taxpayers receive a fair return on mining on federal lands. A reformed program will be an additional blow to the coal industry, already struggling with declining production and restrictive regulations.

Daniel James Brown‘s book about the University of Washington’s eight-oar rowing team, “The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics” was a bestseller for months when it was published in 2013.